Friday, July 12, 2024

European Adventure - July 2024


                European Adventure - July 2024   Photo: Main Square in Krakow, largest in Europe.

Just the Facts:
Cities to Visit: Warsaw Poland, Krakow Poland (4), Vienna Austria (3), Florence Italy (2), Bologna Italy,  Ravenna Italy.

Travel Day -  July 13, 2024 -- Tampa FL - Warsaw Poland
Our Swiss Air flight on Friday was canceled, so we began early Saturday morning with a United Airlines flight to ORD in Chicago then a direct LOT Polish Airline flight to Warsaw.  We lucked out on premium seats on both new flights arriving in Warsaw on the following morning.

Day One -  July 14, 2024 -- Warsaw Poland
We arrived at about 9:00 am at Frédéric Chopin International Airport and went through Polish Immigration easily and happily our three checked bags arrived soon afterward.  We took a taxi ($18) to Hotel Polonia Palace.  It is a very nice hotel and allowed us to check in early without charging us for the missed night due to the flight cancellation. We were in our nice room by 10:30 am and following a nice hot shower took a 3+ hour nap.  At 3:00 pm we took a taxi to Stare Miasto w Warszawie or the Old Town (photo).  It has been a UNESCO Heritage site since 1980 and is the location of the original Medieval settlement and the original City Walls from the 16th century.  Since the weather was very nice there were many more locals than tourists enjoying the many Restaurants, Shops, Museums, the Town Square, Churches, and Public Buildings.  This is certainly the beautiful Heart of the City. This area was my primary location to visit while here and it was a great day for it. We enjoyed our main meal in the Old Main Square at Restauracja U Barssa in their outdoor pavilion.  They served traditional Polish foods, DW ordered the Spinach & Feta Cheese Pierogi, and I ordered the Kotlet schabowy smażony na smalcu z mangalicy or Fried Pork Cutlet and Salad. The cutlet was the size of the serving plate and the BEST I have ever experienced. I had not realized until I researched for this blog entry that our choice was a very highly-rated restaurant.  We had the option of the Chopin Concert held daily at 6:30 in a local Palace but chose to leave Old Town and casually walk back to the hotel.  We went down a long Boulevard closed to traffic (at least on a Sunday) and lined with large Government Buildings, Palaces, Parks, Restaurants, Museums, and various Street Artists.  Once back at the hotel, I enjoyed two Pilsner Urquell beers on tap…rare to find my favorite beer on tap.  We retired and hopefully will be acclimated to local time by morning.  It was a great first day in Poland.
Day Two -  July 15, 2024 -- Warsaw to Kraków Poland 
I woke only once during the night and slept well, waking at about 7:30 am and I think I have successfully acclimated to local time…it is six hours earlier than Florida time.  I posted this blog, researched times for our train to Krakow today, and booked us on the 9:41 am train.  We quickly packed and then walked the few blocks to the train station. We had nice 1st class seats ($98) for the smooth 2+ hour direct train arriving at about noon.  Due to the early heat, we took an overpriced taxi to our hotel arriving after 12:30.  We are staying for four nights at the Hotel Polski Pod Białym Orłem. Fortunately, our room was ready as check-in is normally at 3:00 pm.  The building is a former 16th Century Palace located just inside the Main Gate to the historic Old Town. We met William, the first black person we have seen in Poland, and he is from Tampa, here studying hospitality in school...small world.  After dropping our bags in our room we walked the 5+ minutes down to the Main Square, supposedly the largest in Europe, to the Sukiennice Restaurant for lunch.  I basically ordered the same as yesterday for comparison.  The pork cutlet was even larger and tasted better. Amazing and it came with Lemon, Pickled Potatoes, plus Sauerkraut & Pickles for the table. The bonus was Pilsner Urquell on tap.  I couldn’t eat it all.  As it was hot on this warm day we returned to the cool comfort of our hotel room for a wee nap.  At about 8:00 pm we went back out and the Old Town was now very busy in the cooler weather.  We went to Chimney Cake Bakery for a special indescribably wonderful dessert then walked down to the Main Square again enjoying the sights and sounds of various activities (photo).  All the outdoor restaurants were busy and a lot of street Musicians were entertaining.  Most shops stay open late as well.  A much better impression of Old Town than from earlier in the day. We got back to the hotel after 10:00 pm and found Bloomberg News, an English-speaking TV channel, to catch up on the recent dramatic events in America.  Updated the blog and planned our museum visits before retiring after midnight.  It was a great day in Krakow Poland.

Day Three -  July 16th, 2024 -- Kraków Poland
We had a 9:00 am entry ticket to tour the Wawel Royal Castle so we were out at about 8:00 for the walk to the opposite side of the Old Town.  We stopped along the way for street pretzels and arrived before opening.  I ordered three sets of tickets to visit three different areas and we were the first to enter the level one area at opening.  You see various art collections and displays in the many Castle Chambers.  Between tours one and two we enjoyed refreshments in the outdoor courtyard.  Tour two on the upper levels was more of the same but primarily Polish National displays and collections.  The third tour was of the Castle Treasury.  After almost three hours we began the return walk across the Old Town stopping at Pierogarnia Krakowiacy. They serve traditional Polish food specializing in Polish dumplings. The food was excellent, the DW ordered the Ruskie Pirogies and I had the Meat Cabbage Rolls in Tomato Sauce.  The portions were huge as well as delicious. We were back at the hotel by 1:00 for rest and a nap.  At about 3:30 I went to the Czartoryski Museum located next to our hotel.  They have acquired many collections over the years including items from the Palace that is now our hotel.  A very eclectic collection of Art, Military items, Polish history, and more. The most renowned painting at the Museum is one of Leonardo da Vinci's best-known works from 1490, the Lady with an Ermine (photo).  Our hotel Bar & Restaurant keeps the theme and is named the Ermine.  An afternoon rain cooled the weather so at about 6:30 I strolled down to the Sukiennice Restaurant in the Main Square.  I knew they had my special beer and I wanted to compare the Cabbage Rolls.  Sukiennices were smaller in size but served with Mashed Potatoes and perhaps more flavorful.  I love the Polish food.  Not as much activity in the Square tonight but I enjoyed the two accordion musicians while dining.  I stopped at a store to buy water and Coca-cola then back to Hotel Polski for the evening.  It was a cultural day in Kraków.

Day Four -  July 17th, 2024 -- Auschwitz Day — Kraków Poland
We were up early for our 6:30 excursion meeting time to visit and tour the Auschwitz-Birkenau WWII era former German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camps. We arrived at Auschwitz in time for our scheduled 8:30 am Guided Tour. The tour itself is designed so that you innocently experience the arrival of detainees years ago. Once you clear security you are escorted into the Cloak Room that is representative of a Gas Chamber (lost on most visitors). All communication is by the Guides via headphones and you’re instructed not to talk and be respectful. You then proceed through passageways to the Camp near the famous entry sign Arbeit Macht Frei. Once inside you're taken into several Block Houses with displays of eyeglasses, housewares, luggage, hair, and more taken from the detainees before being marched to the gas chambers. It’s a very emotional experience overall. There are a lot of books and movies documenting the horrors of these Extermination Camps I recommend watching/reading them before you visit. This part of the tour is just over an hour. Birkenau was built during the war and a much larger Camp is about 3 miles away. The entry by rail cars is well documented here.  Visiting Auschwitz is a must-do in this area of Poland. After the one hour+ drive back we were dropped near the Old Town at about 1:00 pm. We walked to Restauracja Galicyjska located near our hotel in a candle-lit cellar.  Nice atmosphere and perfect following that excursion. DW ordered a Salad and I had the Honey-Tomato-Beer Battered Braised Pork Ribs with tiny Baked Potatoes & a Summer Slaw. It was a good dinner. It was now a much-needed nap time. At about 7:30 the weather was nice and cool so we went on a walkabout. I stopped at a Leather Shop and had a custom belt made for myself. Then we had a simple meal of Pizza and a Hamburger in an outdoor location near the City Gate. We walked down to the Main Square and then retired to the hotel. I worked on this Blog, booked excursions for tomorrow, and then watched Bloomberg TV until midnight. It was a very memorable day visiting Auschwitz.
Day Three -  July 16th, 2024 -- Kraków Poland
I woke early but well rested.  I posted this Blog and reviewed news from home this morning.


Sunday, June 16, 2024

Royal Princess Alaska Cruise Review - June 15-29, 2024 

Royal Princess Cruise Review - June 15, 2024

Just The Facts:

Ship: Grand Princess, a Royal Class class ship @139,000 gross tons and 3600 capacity
Captain: Steve Holland  -  Cruise Director: Kelvin Joy
Ports: Vancouver, Canada - Ketchikan AK (2) - Juneau, AK (2) - Skagway, AK - Glacier Bay (Sailing)(2) - College Fjord (Sailing) - Whittier, AK -.Hubbard Glacier (sailing)

This is an S2S (side-to-side) cruise having moved over to the Grand Princess from the Koningdam in Vancouver.  It’s also a B2B as I’m doing the 7-day cruise to Whittier and then the 7-day return back to Vancouver the following week.  This is my first cruise on the Royal Princess but this will be my 23rd and 24th sailings on Princess and my 212th and 213th cruises overall. A mixture of repeat and new ports from last week.  I'll review these in one review.
Day One -- Saturday --  June 15th, 2024 -- Embarkation Day - Vancouver Canada
No travel days as I’m already at the embarkation port.  It was a rather smooth transition slightly complicated by the Grands' later arrival this morning.  We also sailed a little early, I was told both were due to the tides, seems this ship has to be concerned with the height of the  Lions Gate Bridge. I spent some time in Canada Place, they have a huge  Food Court and pharmacy as well as some great Totem Poles, one from 1900 protected inside (photo). Security for boarding began late due to ships arrival so a compressed arrival window for guests and long lines.   Things moved well though…the facial recognition helps.  I was boarded and in my cabin by 1:00 PM.   I do have an interior cabin but it was all that was available with my late booking.  I didn’t get a cabin assignment until 3 days before sailing.  I’m basically in the middle/middle from low to high deck and forward to aft.  It is huge as it’s an HC cabin… a huge bath too with no bulkhead to trip on either.  I went up to the  Horizon Court (Lido buffet) at about 2:00   pm for lunch.  I had a  Shwarma from the International Bistro, Some good Bread Pudding and great Carrot Cake, then some fresh fruit.  I did my check-in at my Muster  Station while doing a short Walkabout.  Not many Bars open, but perhaps intentionally due to so many boarding in a short window.  I met my cabin Stewart and he stressed me a bit by saying he hadn’t seen my bags and we were sailing away.  But he soon returned with them, I mentioned that they tagged them early this morning with a different style of tag, but all was well.  I was then able to set up the cabin, including moving the bed to a different wall.  Remember, a huge cabin…but I will miss my great balcony from last week.  At about 6:45 pm I went to the Crooners  Bar it was very entertaining with a great Bartender with Flair and a nice couple from Illinois. At about 8:20 I went to the Symphony Dining  Room on Deck 5.  Good waiter and good food.  I ordered the Greek Salad,  the Pan Fried Alaskan Cod entree as well as the Roast Pork Tenderloin  Medallions since that’s what I ordered on the first night on Konsingsdam last week… much better on the K-Dam. I ordered a nice Alaskan Blueberry Cobbler with Ice Creme for dessert.  I retired to the cabin after dinner.  It was an interesting Transition Day in Vancouver’s Canadian  Place.

Day Two -- Sunday --  June 16th, 2024 -- Inside Passage to Alaska

Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well in the interior cabin. At about 7:45 am I went down to the Concerto Dining Room (MDR) for breakfast.  I ordered the daily Special; a Fruit Plate and Eggs Florentine.  I also had Hot Milk, Danish, Hash Browns, and Bacon. It was good. My cabin steward came as soon as I arrived back so I did a walkabout even going on the outer deck although I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt.  The seas were much smoother than at this point last week.  I returned to the cabin and updated this blog as it was too busy yesterday and caught up on some business the rest of the morning. At about 1:00 pm  I went to the Horizon Court for lunch, I made a do-it-yourself Hamburger and a Coney with fresh French Fries.  They were good.  I first took my large mug and filled it with ice at the Lido Pool Bar, then had Diet Coke delivered to the table.  The Medallion System is great, they can find you for delivery of drinks or food.  I had a lazy day watching movies, it was too cool on the outer decks and the scheduled activities didn’t appeal to me.  My standard answer to a common question I get from other guests: “The advantage of having cruised 212 days is that I don’t have to do anything”.  That’s what I did today.  I went on a Coke run and had dinner in the Horizon Court, it wasn’t busy I guess most wanted to have the Captain's Night formal dinner.  They had everything on the Buffet, I sampled: Baked Fish, Fried Fish, Duck, Carved Turkey, and could have had Prime Rib too.  I have good WiFi with streaming this cruise so I watched TV and surfed the Web until sheep time.  It was a nice lazy day on the Royal Princess. 

Day Three -- Monday — June 17th, 2024 — Ketchikan, Alaska
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. We changed our clocks/time back one hour to Alaska time overnight. It was daylight at 4:30 am and we were docked hours before our scheduled 7:00 am arrival this morning. I did some business early this morning as Markets open at 6:30 am local time. At about 8:00 am had a small breakfast in the Lido Market as my only plan for the day was to eat at the Alaska Fish House, I couldn’t last week as I had a Seafood Boil as a part of my excursions. We are docked at Pier #4 the furthest and newest pier, but much better than tendering like I did last week. I left the ship at about 9:30 and casually walked into town. Three other ships came in and docked as the morning progressed.  I took photos of the large stuffed bears located at many of the vendor locations so I’d have a collection to show the granddaughter.  I arrived at the Alaska Fish House at about 10:30, it was already full as they open at 10, but no long line as they usually have, since I was ahead of guests from those newly arrived ships. I got the 3-piece Halibut Fish & Chips, Fries, Slaw & DrPepper. I ate outside in the back with the beautiful view and enjoyed the excellent weather. The fish was the best and I then stayed to enjoy a Pilsner Beer. I then walked over to the famous Creek Street Historic Area (photo), the former red light district now with unique shops in the retired period Madame Houses. I began the walk back stopping at the Sourdough Bar for a couple of Alaskan beers. I was back at the ship by 2:00 pm ahead of our 2:30 BoB (back-on-board) time.  Met one of the feature singers in the line so I’ll go to a production show this cruise. I stopped at Bellini's for a rest and cocktail on the way to the cabin.  After a nice hot shower, I attended the Elite Guest Reception at 4:30 pm in the Vista Lounge. Not many attending.  Today's hors d’oeuvres included: Waldorf Salad (in a martini glass), a selection of Sushi, Dipping Vegetables, Fruits, Cheeses, Nuts, and more. The warm selection was Empanadas. The Solo Guitarist was the entertainment and I enjoyed the Cherry Garden specialty cocktail. I will try not to miss this daily event. I had to visit the Crooners Bar for my Cosmopolitan and some new variations. I was joined at a late dinner by a new Canadian friend in the Symphony Dining Room on Deck 5. I ordered: the warm Alaska Shrimp & Spinach Dip, and the Choucroute consisting of Smoked Pork, Sausage, and Parsley Potatoes, on a bed of Sauerkraut (Choucroute). Excellent, I love German Food. I retired straight away after the great meal. It was a great day in Ketchikan and on the Royal Princess.
Day Four -- Tuesday --  June 18, 2024 -- Juneau, Alaska 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. I woke at about 6:00 am while we were docking, I updated this blog and reviewed some business until 9:00 am when I went to the MDR before it closed for Breakfast.  I had two fried Eggs, Hash Browns, Bacon, Sausage, Danish, Hot Milk, and a Fruit Plate.  It was very Good.  I left the ship at about 10:30 am, we are at the far pier so a bit of a walk into town. I took my time as I wanted to make it to Capital Barbers by 11:00 am when they opened.  I walked up at exactly 11:00 and she opened the door as I arrived.  Good thing too as two walkups came soon afterward.  Great and needed haircut too ($28+).  I then walked over to the Alaska State Museum and spent over an hour looking at the displays.  The museum covers the Earliest of Times to Native Alaskans, to Russian Settlements, to American Acquisition, to the Salmon Rush to the Gold Rush, to the World Wars, to the Oil Boom, to Modern Times.  Very well done ($13 seniors).  I then went through the State Office Building as I remembered a huge Bear in the Lobby.  I then had a beer in the old Alaska Hotel Bar…a real throwback bar that still hasn’t changed since I visited in 2012.  I then stopped at the new hot spot: DeckHand Dave’s Fish Tacos.  I had the Halibut Fish & Chips ($28). It was as almost as good as yesterday in Ketchikan.  I walked right on past the Red Dog as I slowly walked back towards the Ship.  We now have five cruise ships in port.  I made it back to the Royal Princess at about 3:00 pm. I went to the Vista Lounge at 4:30 pm again for the Elite Reception.  The hors d’oeuvres included: Guacamole, Salsa & Chips, Tuna Salad, Dipping Vegetables, Fruits, Cheeses, Nuts, and more. The warm selection was Vegetarian Spring Rolls.  I later went to the Symphony Dining Room for Dinner, I ordered two entrees: Veal Scaloppine and Sautéed Shrimp & Scallops.  The Scallops were disappointing not nearly as good as last week, but the Veal was fair.  I went by  Crooners to get some Ice and Coca-Cola as I had a TV night this evening.  It was a good day in Juneau Alaska.

Day Five -- Wednesday --  June 19th, 2024 — Skagway and Haines, Alaska

Smooth seas overnight and I slept well. Again, it seemed to be light all night and we were docked in Skagway when I woke. I went to the MDR for breakfast, Eggs Benedict + Potatoes & Bacon, a Fruit Plate, Danish, Hot Milk, and Juice. My excursion today is Haines Wilderness Odyssey By Jet Boat. Because of the landslide along the Pier a few years ago guests had to tender a short way to a pier and they began that at about 6:30 am, my excursion meeting time was at 10:30 am and we were tendered thereby 11:00. We waited for the 45 minute Ferry Boat to Haines that luckily sails from that same pier. The time on the ferry was scenic and went by quickly as I visited with my new friend from LA (Lower Alabama). Upon arrival at the Haines Pier, we boarded buses to our destination along the scenic Chilkat River.  We used Chilkat River Adventures and their specially designed flat-bottom boats to tour the river.  Not as much wildlife as I had hoped but we did see Eagles and a Coastal Brown Bear with FOUR Cubs.  That is rare. The majestic views along the river were wonderful (photo). After the tour and lunch, we took the bus back to Haines and then the ferry back to Skagway. I met my new friend again who went to the Wildlife (rescue) Center and had up-close experiences with Moose, Foxes, and more.  Certainly several tour options from Haines and well worth the ferry trip. Fortunately for me, we dock at the same dock as the Princess tender boats so after a wait on the tender boat I was back on the ship at about 6:30 p.m. After refreshing I was ready for a couple of cocktails at Crooners, then dinner in the MDR.  Tonight I was ready for dinner and I ordered: a Seafood Vol-au-Vent pastry, a Shrimp Cocktail, the Spaghetti Ala Carbonara Pasta course, and the Pan-fried Chicken Scaloppine entree.  It was all very good. After my late dinner, I retired to the cabin and was soon fast asleep. It was a great excursion day to Haines Alaska.


Day Six -- Thursday --  June 20th, 2024 -- Sailing Glacier Bay Alaska   
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. I have a lot of business and blog to catch up on today, but went up for breakfast in the Horizon Court at about 9:45, it was busy with many watching the beautiful scenery of Glacier Bay. We entered Glacier Bay National Park very early so we were already well up in the fjord by breakfast. I had Fried Eggs, Eggs Benedict, Bacon, Hash Browns, and Juice. It was better than the MDR but my timing was probably perfect. I did go into an inlet to see a glacier we did not stop and see last week, the John Hopkins Glacier, it was very nice with great color and the Captain was stalling as the NCL Encore was already at the head of the bay.  I returned to the cabin for binoculars and went back out picking a viewing spot that we would be turning into at Margerie Glacier.   The weather was great for viewing and less ice than last week. I again enjoyed it. The ship did two full 360° turns too giving the all including aft viewers a much better view. I then returned to the cabin to update this blog and get some business done.  When the National Park Rangers debarked at about 3:15 pm the CD mentioned the special musical show in the Piazza at 3:30 and needing a break I attended.  It was great with the Feature Musical Band with Ship Orchestra combined…it was wonderful and a start to a great afternoon. During the show, I ordered two drinks using the Medallion system, and they were delivered within 15 minutes.  After the show, I had two sandwiches: Chicken Salad and a heated Ham on Pretzel from the International Cafe. I then went across to the Gelato Station and discovered that with the Pro Package, you get Premium Sundaes…I was expecting perhaps a deluxe cone but this was much more.  Of the many choices, I got the one with the least Chocolate, the Donatello.  Oh my, I can't do that every day.  I did not attend the Elite Cocktail party this evening and did absolutely nothing until I went to the Harmony Grill for some Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, and Vegetables.  I got some ice from the bar and retired for the night.  It was a brilliant day cruising in Glacier Bay.
Day Seven -- Friday --  June 21, 2024 -- College Fjord
Slight rocking overnight as we cross the Gulf of Alaska and open water. It is overcast and wet early this morning for the first time this cruise, but we don’t reach College Fjord until very late in the day.  I was awake for the Market opening this morning @ 5:30 am so did some business.  Then I went up to Lido for Breakfast.  I had three Fried Eggs, Bacon, Grilled Tomato, Hash Browns, and a very nice and impressive Biscuit.  I know biscuits and this was as good as you can get on a ship.  I was back in the cabin by 8:00 and it was already made up…I’ve had very good timing with my Cabin Stewart, I think the Medallion may have something to do with it. I'm still amazed that it unlocks the door before I reach it.  Today was the Most Traveled Guest Luncheon with the Captain and Senior Staff, I made the cut again even though I haven’t been sailing Princess like I did years ago.  Probably more now that they are going to sail from Port Canaveral and Galveston. The Luncheon was in Sabatini’s at noon and was very nice.  I received a personalized invitation a few days ago and today we had Personal Menus as our table place cards.  The officer at our table was the Head of Security.  The Captain took a photo with all the guests as we entered and the Senior Staff was introduced.  Service was top notch and the Menu offered several choices. I ordered: the Alaskan Seafood Cake, the Wild Alaskan Crusted Halibut entree, and the Rhubarb Swirl Delight for dessert.  Bread and wine were served. I’ve attended many of these, and Princess’ is the best,  but this one was very special, exceeding any premium dinner or Chef Table I have attended on a cruise ship. I relaxed during the afternoon until we arrived at College Fjord at about 5:00 pm.  I had dinner on Lido, Minute Steak & Chicken Cordon Blu, while we were sailing up the fjord. It was nearly 6:15 when we arrived at the series of glaciers all named for American Schools.  The Harvard and Yale Glaciers are the major ones.  The weather was brilliant this evening, the Ranger said we rarely get a big blue sky and all the mountain peaks,  The downside was no wildlife but the majesty of numerous glaciers was amazing.  The Wildlife Ranger did a program from the Ships’s Bridge as we viewed each of the individual glaciers.  It was well worth the time.  When I returned to my cabin there was luggage in the passageway…many guests ended their cruise or continued to Denali, with many continuing on the 14-day back to Vancouver as am I.  I’m retiring early as I have an excursion on the water tomorrow,  It was a very enjoyable day on the Royal Princess.


Day Eight -- Saturday -- June 22nd, 2024 -- Whittier, Alaska

Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well.  We were already docked when I woke at about 6:30 am.  They were already debarking guests that early too. Trains to take guests to Denali, Buses for those to Anchorage, and some staying onboard for return to Vancouver. I went to the Lido for Breakfast as not sure of the MDR schedule on this turn-around day.  At about 10:40 I went off the ship to meet the excursion group.  My excursion is the 26 Glacier Cruise by Phillips (link), a long-time and award-winning excursion.  A lot of the route was a repeat of College Fjord but very much more up close and personable with the glaciers.  Also, glaciers that could not be seen from the Royal Princess.  Of course, there were other inlets we sailed in Prince William Sound including Blackstone Bay and Glacier (photo). The lunch that was served was very good, I had the Wild Alaskan Smoked Salmon Chowder.  There was bar service available, but the bargain for me was the unlimited soft drinks in a souvenir cup @ $8. Seating is assigned and I had a nice table with other solo guests from my cruise on the B2B. There was a Park Ranger who did commentary as well as the Captain on occasion. Overall this was one of the best excursions I have ever done. We returned to the ship at about 6:30 and reboarding was easy.  I dropped my backpack at the cabin and went straight to the MDR for dinner.  I ordered two Princess Shrimp Cocktails and two entrees: Pan-Fried Alaskan Cod and Cajun Fried Chicken, with the gelato Baked Alaska for dessert.  Also, two Cosmopolitan Cocktails were added to the very enjoyable meal.  I did a short walkabout observing the new guests orienting themselves…a bit amusing.  I retired by 9:45 as I needed the rest after a busy day.  A great excursion and east turn-around day in Whittier and on the Royal Princess.


Day Nine — Sunday — June 23rd 2024 — Sailing Yakutat Bay& Hubbard Glacier

Smooth seas overnight and I slept well and late.  I decided to skip breakfast this morning and updated this Blog as I was too tired yesterday.  Also trying to find a late booking in Europe for kin and unfortunately, the one I’m on is sold out.  Cruising is very popular again I was very lucky to get on this cruise.  At about 11:15 I went to the Trident Grill on  Lido Deck for a Hamburger & Fries, it was good.  Then at about 1:00  pm, I went down to Deck 5 for a large Sundae, a Donatello.  I was craving comfort food and the burger & sundae fit the bill.  I had a relaxing day as we were sailing into Yakutat Bay approaching the Hubbard Glacier (photo) (LINK).  As we reached the narrow Disenchantment Bay there was a huge ice flow in the water from the calving of the Hubbard.  The weather is perfect for viewing but we could not get as close as we have to previous glaciers.  This is a very large glacier horizontally as we can see up the glacier into Canada.  This is by far the most ice I  have seen and also one of the few glaciers in Alaska expanding and not receding.  The glacier we see in the middle of the photo is four miles across…doesn’t seem that wide, but our ship is far away.  You can also see the ice flow that the Captain does not want to cross. Quite majestic views...and there have been many on this trip. Evening cocktails at Crooners were nice. At 7:30 I finally went to the Production Show: Sweet Soul Music in the Theater.  It was very good and with a live Orchestra,  rare these days.  I enjoyed the Blues Brothers routine best among the many colorful musical and dance sets.  Afterward I had late dinner in the MDR.  I ordered Princess Shrimp Cocktail, Tapioca Fruit Salad. and ordered the premium Filet Mignon & Lobster entree.  It was very good as was the service and preparation.  I retired after dinner.  It was a great day on the Royal Princess.
Day Ten — Monday — June 24th 2024 — Sailing Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well.  Foggy this morning but gradually burned off for sailing in the Bay.  We are in earlier this week than last.  I went up to the Lido Deck and had a Fruit Plate for breakfast then did a walkabout stopping at Guest Services before returning to the cabin.  I had Monday morning business then had movie time, in the afternoon watching Madame Webb a part of the Marvel series.  I did go to the MDR for the first time for lunch.  It was very filling, I ordered the Street Taco as a starter and two mains: Beer Battered Alaskan Cod and Tex-Mex Roasted Chicken.  All was good too.  I stopped by Captain Circle to discuss the Most Traveled Luncheon, good that I did too as they didn’t send out invitations. I had a nice plush leather chair in Crooners and enjoyed some afternoon cocktails as we sailed out of Glacier Bay.  A lot of unhappy Canadians this evening as Edmonton lost game 7 of the Stanley Cup to an American team, Miami. That event dominated activities on the ship and I even watched the third period live.  At about 7:30 pm, I went to the MDR as I liked tonight's menu from last week.  I ordered the same:  the warm Alaska Shrimp & Spinach Dip, added the Spaghetti Parmasean, and the Choucroute entree consisting of Smoked Pork, Sausage, Bacon, and Parsley Potatoes, on a bed of Sauerkraut (Choucroute).  No dessert.  A short walkabout the ship before retiring to the cabin.  I spent little time out on deck today as this was my third visit to Glacier Bay in 18 days and the weather wasn’t as nice today. (Too many glacier photos so today's photo is from yesterdays production show) It was a relaxing day with good food on the Royal Princess.
Day Eleven — Tuesday — June 25th, 2024 — Icy Point Straight Alaska
We were docked all night at Icy Point so calm overnight and I slept well. It was very foggy when I woke at about 7:00 am and went to Lido for breakfast. Lido has been the better choice this cruise and this morning a Canadian Bacon addition: fried Eggs, Hash Browns, Bacon, Watermelon, and more. I did the Forest Tram excursion that included the Icy Point Gondola ride to the top of the mountain. It was too foggy to have any panoramic viewings in the still-heavy fog. We did get the only real up-close wildlife viewing of a Sitka Black-Tailed Deer. The ship had to leave the dock at about 11:00 am so guests poured off about then just as I was arriving down from the mountain. This created a mass of guests arriving at once so I skipped going to the Cannery and made a beeline back to use the gangway and not a water shuttle later. It was the correct decision considering the weather didn’t improve and the simplicity of the boarding process. I had lunch in Alfredo’s an Italian-style cafe on deck 6. I ordered a Green Salad, a Pepperoni & Ham Calzone, and an English Garden cocktail. There was Whale happily playing alongside the ship as well. I then went to the cabin and took a two-hour Nap…wow I don’t usually do that, but refreshing.  The weather had cleared a lot so I took cocktails at the Double Down Bar with a window until time for the 7:30 production show: Colors of the World featuring the Royal Princess Singers and Dancers. Songs and Costumes from India, Greece, Italy, Argentina, Brazil & more…yes it was colorful. They also did one of my favorite songs: Conte Parte…a very entertaining show. Afterward, I went to dinner in the MDR, it was Italian night. I ordered: Mushroom & Truffle Arancini, Green Salad, Chicken Parmigiana, and Tuscan-style Strip Steak. It was very good although I could not eat it all. I did a brief walkabout then retired to the cabin to update this blog and review the up-market today. It was another good day on the Royal Princess.

Day Twelve -- Wednesday --  June 26, 2024 -- Juneau, Alaska 

Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. I woke at about 6:30 am and we were already docked in Juneau. Guests were going ashore by 7:00 am. Four ships today.  I had a Fruit Plate for breakfast and left the ship at about 9:30 am.  I did a walkabout downtown until Deck Hand Dave’s Fish Tacos opened at 11:00 am.  I stumbled upon it last trip and it was great.  This morning I checked Trip Advisor for best Fish & Chips in Juneau and it was Deckhand Dave’s, in fact #1 of all restaurants in Juneau.  I ordered the Halibut Fish & Chips and also a Fish Taco.  It was again great.  I casually returned to the ship and was back on board at about 1:30 pm. The weather was ideal today so I went up to Deck 16 aft and got a spot on the back rail facing Juneau and spent several hours (photo). I was prepared in my shorts and large thermos mug just watching the activity, mountains, the other cruise ships, fishing boats, float planes, sail away, and more. It was fabulous.  My third trip to Juneau in 18 days and I do like it.  At about 5:40 I went into the Horizon Court and had a really good meal.  They had every entree offered in the MDR tonight.  I had Pork Tenderloin & Pork Ribs, Large green Salad, Potatoes, and Vegetables.  It was the 2nd best meal of the cruise.  I finally switched out my complementary bar with items I really want trading liquor for Perrier and Diet Coke.  I decided to stay in for a movie night tonight.  I can stream well enough for Netflix or ESPN.  It was a very enjoyable day in Juneau Alaska.

Day Thirteen -- Thursday --  June 27, 2024 -- Ketchikan, Alaska
Smooth seas but couldn’t sleep, too much caffeine. I woke at about 8:00 am and went down to the MDR for a light breakfast of Blueberry Pancakes, Fruit, and Hot Milk. Guests recommended an 8-top shared table so we were sat straightaway…all interesting guests to share experiences and I prefer a shared table. We didn’t dock until about 10:00 am which was earlier than our scheduled arrival time, but I took cabin time as my only plan today was lunch. At about noon I debarked and casually walked to the Alaska Fish House.  It's a very long line but well worth the wait for the best Fish & Chips in Alaska IMHO. I ordered the same: 3-piece Halibut with Fries & Slaw. I casually walked back noticing the different ships in port. Good phone service here so called home from upper deck while watching an Eagle circle in the sky. It's a cooler day so the rest of the afternoon was cabin time. At about 4:30 pm, I went to the Circle C Reception for Elite guests.  It’s held in the Double Down Bar, a smaller bar and more intimate. The hors d’oeuvres were neatly displayed and very good. I enjoyed the oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Fruit, and Arancini was the hot appetizer. The bar service was good as well. Later I went to Crooners for cocktails then to Sabatini’s for a premium Italian Dinner. I ordered: Insalada Mista, Burrata Caprese, Italiana Mestball with Pasta, and the Tuscan Strip Steak entree. All was very good, especially the Burrata and Steak. No dessert and I retired very soon following that great meal. It was a good day in Alaska for food.
Day Fourteen -- Friday --  June 28, 2024 -- Sailing the Inside Passage 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well.  We set our clocks forward to Pacific Standard Time overnight.  At about 7:30 am I went to the Lido for a light Breakfast with Canadian Bacon again this morning.  I had a busy internet morning with EOM/QTR financials. At noon I went to the Most Traveled Guest Luncheon I was looking forward to it.  Another nice table and our officer was the head of the Finance Department on the ship.  A different Menu from last week that is very nice for B2B guests.  Unfortunately, the main entree was the same steak from last night and I don’t care for Salmon, the other choice.  My waiter fixed me up with two appetizers and I was very happy. I had Smoked Tomato Bisque, Lobster & King Scallop Salad (photo), and Passion Fruit Fantasy for dessert.  All very good especially the Lobster and all beautifully presented.  I had cabin time in the afternoon and packed earlier than I had in 212 previous cruises.  I am anxious to get home, but I have a special direct bus transport that is considered in transit and we will not have to clear customs.  I need to do everything to the letter including bags outside the cabin that I will be retrieved at the airport.  I have an early flight so I’ll report how this goes.  At about 4:30 pm, I went to the Circle C reception in the Double Down Bar (Next to the casino…get it?) for one cocktail and some wonderful Breaded Shrimp from the hot appetizers available.  On my walkabout, I discovered that Catherine the Princess of Wales (and the next Queen of England) is the Godmother of this Ship…nice photo of her on deck five. At about 7:00 pm I went to Crooners for cocktails.  The best bartending team on the ship: Marnie, Anna, and Adonis do a great job. At 8:00 pm I went to Sabatini’s for dinner.  Tonight I had: Arancini, Buratta Caprese, Parmigiana di Melanzane (eggplant), the Scallopine di Vitello ai Marsala (veal) entree, and the chef sampler of four desserts.  It was very good although the old Eggplant Parmigiana starter was far superior to the current eggplant entree, but they needed a vegetarian option and changed it.  At about 9:00 pm we were treated to a show: Whale Watching.  Few in the room left and I spotted them on the starboard side, but everyone, guests & waiter staff, ended up at the windows.  Very cool and a good way to end the evening.  It was a busy final day on the Royal Princess.
Debarkation -- Saturday --  June 29, 2024 -- Vancouver & Travel Day
Smooth sailing on our last night and I slept very well. I was up by 5:00 am to pack my carry-on bag and update this blog.  My meeting time for the in-transit direct shuttle was at 9:00 am. We do not collect our bags at the terminal nor go through customs, our Canadian forms are done in advance and handled by the ship. So we debark first before any other debark numbers.  We were Red-1 and were escorted directly to our electric airport Bus.  Once we arrived at YVR we picked up our awaiting suitcases and proceeded to airline bag check-in.  I was flying United the second airline from our entry.    A very easy process and no long lines.  Three hours to Denver then three hours to Tampa and after a Lyft ride was home at about 12:30 am.  Very impressed with the Direct Airport Bus.  (BTW-not the regular airport shuttle bus)

Most Sailed Guests Luncheons (2) with Captain and Senior Staff.
26 Glacier Excursion
Sailing Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier, & College Fjord
Great Halibut Fish & Chips in both Juneau and Ketchikan
Colors of the World Production Show
Sweet Soul Music Production Show

The Medallion is brilliant…Makes sailing easy.
Cabin service is twice a day with Turn-down service but never any ice.
Easy to switch WiFi on devices (iPhone to Laptop)
The food in MDR And Horizon Court (Lido Buffet) are equally good.  Lido may be better IMHO.